• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

None of the characters in Arthur Millers 'The Crucible' are wholly blameless for the ensuing tragedy. In your opinion does the audience find them sympathetic?

Extracts from this document...


None of the characters in Arthur Millers 'The Crucible' are wholly blameless for the ensuing tragedy. In your opinion does the audience find them sympathetic? Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible', portrays the hysteria created in a paranoid society that is pent-up with vengeance and retribution, when 'the balance within a community begins to turn towards greater individual freedom'. When discussing this play we must look at the audience's awareness of the parallels between the period when the play is set and the time when it is written. The initial audience of the 1950's would be aware of the paranoia in Salem and the persecution of people who value their morals. However audiences today are aware of the double paranoia created by the clear parallels between the witch trials and Arthur Miller's personal experiences of being accused of having communist sympathies. This awareness enhances all the themes throughout the play, including the sympathy felt by the audience. The development of sympathy for characters depends greatly on the part they play in the development of the trials and the factors that justify their doing so. With reference to language, structure and the social and historical settings, four of the protagonists will be investigated to identify the techniques used by the author to evoke these feelings of sympathy within the audiences. Abigail is undoubtedly an instigator of the mayhem that led to the trials. She is the ringleader of the girls. As she leads them through the trials her opinion and issues with people are a major influence in the false accusations of witchcraft. This, on the surface, makes her appear to be one of the characters who receive the least sympathy. However during the play the audience is shown the factors that have caused her actions, it is these factors that prompt sympathies. Abigail had a very traumatic childhood. The Native Americans murdered her parents and brought her up. ...read more.


Fear nothing, Elizabeth.' Proctor endears sympathy as, as the hysteria builds up he appears to be one of few seeing sense. He points out that if the accused deny they face hanging, whereas their confession, regardless of its truth, means life. The audience's attitude changes in Act 3 when Proctor attempts to defend and free his wife. The tension in this act increase as Proctor's desperation augments. As the act progresses Proctor's revelations 'that woman will never lie' builds up bathos, as the audience are drawn into the escalation into the climax of his confession to adultery and his wife's' following denial of it. The audience's sympathy is developed through the use of dramatic irony, as we are aware that Elizabeth will deny the affair to save her husbands name. This event is a turning point as his desperation in the whole situation and obvious love for Elizabeth is expressed earning the audience's sympathy. Proctor is one character who is present throughout the trials and until the bitter end i.e. his death. The final scenes are where Proctor is shown as a heroic tortured soul, who craves the love and forgiveness of Elizabeth. His obvious disgust at his sacrifice of his morals and his shame when he faces Rebecca Nurse 'through his teeth, his face turned away from Rebecca' captivate the audience. This search for self forgiveness and the finding of 'his goodness,' leaves Proctor as the hero who remains human, most definitely endearing sympathy. The Salem society was ruled by religion and despite Proctor's sins there are many parallels between himself and Jesus Christ, both are persecuted for telling the truth and trying to save others. Both these men were willing to sacrifice in order to save those they loved, in Proctor's case sacrificing his name to save Elizabeth. The religious view of others caused both their executions, which served as a salvation to others making them see sense. ...read more.


In act one we, the audience are introduced to Elizabeth the wronged wife of the lecherous Proctor. However contrasting in the next scene, her cold house stops this sympathy, as we begin to understand the factors that pushed John into the affair. However it is her appearance at the final stages that perhaps creates the most sympathy. Throughout the play, John and Elizabeth are fighting their conflicting emotions to save their marriage, and in the final stages as we see love prevail over all odds. John is executed as he has her forgiveness and so can forgive himself. This emotional love story immediately creates sympathy as she loses the man she loves to the chaos. Elizabeth can be sympathised with because due to the religious and social values of that time, although adultery was deeply frowned upon, she could not 'escape' from her marriage and so was left struggling with suspicion and disgust for her husband. The period would also have placed blame on the victimised spouse for causing the affair 'it is a cold house that prompts lechery'. Also her attempt to save John names rather than put an end to the madness was based on the high value of a persons 'name', which would remain forever soiled if blackened once. She was in fact a victim not only of Abigail's love for her husband but of the constrictions of a hugely religious society and her consequential high moral standing. Arthur Miller successfully endears the audiences into sympathising with key characters in order to enhance the already captivating story line through his subtle use of structure, language and his knowledge into the social and historical setting of the trials. He allows the audience to have their own opinion on the characters that he influences with their progressing development. Arthur Millers play is a creative dramatic and well-researched exploration into the hysteria that surrounding the 'perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Arthur Miller essays

  1. Elia Kazan's film On the Waterfront and Arthur Miller's play The Crucible tell similar ...

    After his wife is added to the list, Proctor begins to seriously consider risking his own reputation to discredit Abby. In the end, Judge Dimmesdale convinces the people that Proctor is a liar. Proctor is faced with confessing in order to save his life, or to die with what little honor he had left.

  2. Analyse the ways in which the themes of intimidation and persecution are presented in ...

    John is finally intimidated, "Because it is my name! ... I gave you my soul, leave me my name!" John uses this quotation when he is fighting with his conscience over weather to confess witchcraft and save himself from being hanged.

  1. To what extent was Abigail Williams responsible for the Salem witch trials? In ...

    Proctor's house where she used to work, she was still in love with John Proctor. She wanted Elizabeth Proctor to die so that she could take her place. That is why, as we found out earlier, she drank that blood charm showing what a vindictive sort of a nature she had.

  2. Using both Act 2 and Act 4, explore the relationship between John and Elizabeth. ...

    Lastly, the fifth and sixth deadly sins, wrath and envy, are exhibited by the main antagonist of the play- Abigail Williams. Abigail is a very vindictive character who has been shaped by the trauma in her life; she uses the fact that she "saw Indians smash my dear parent's heads on the pillow next to mine..."

  1. How and why does Arthur Miller encourage audience sympathy for John Proctor

    Despite Proctor's many flaws he draws admiration from everyone else in the village, even those who don't like him, such as Putnam and Parris. Proctor and Putnam don't get along because Proctor believes Putnam is trying to wrongfully claim his and other peoples land.

  2. How is the theme of Fear and paranoia created in the crucible?

    If a person tried to be an individual or "loner", they were looked down upon, for that would mean they were leaving the community of belief that was supposed to be held by all members of the society.

  1. Critical Essay - Arthur Miller's "The Crucible",

    It is in this scene that the audience appreciates that the power and authority of an incompetent, unjust court have corrupted Danforth to the point where the public perception of himself is more important than the truth of the girls' deception.

  2. ‘Societies often tend to suppress individual freedom in order to maintain social order.’Discuss how ...

    "No, no, don't hang Tituba! I tell him I don't desire to work for him, sir." Parris threatened her with being whipped to death and Putnam with being hanged if she did not confess. So the thing she did was confess to knowing the Devil but not compacting with him

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work